Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

5 more reasons why Thunderbird is better than OE

Back in August, I came up with 18 reasons why Thunderbird was better than Outlook Express, which are, in summary:

  1. Themes
  2. Extensions
  3. Junk Mail filtering
  4. Better message filtering
  5. Not full of security bugs
  6. HTML Sanitization
  7. Sanitization for Junk Mail
  8. Cross platform
  9. Text Zooming
  10. Automatic folder compression
  11. Javascript Console
  12. Three-pane vertical layout
  13. Customisable start page
  14. On-screen alerts
  15. Message labelling
  16. Graphical emoticons
  17. Spellchecker
  18. Doesn’t get hijacked

Now, in that article I was referring to Thunderbird 0.1, and since 0.6 is on the horizon I’ve come up with 5 more reasons that you should switch.

  1. Message Truncation – fed up of downloading 150KB virus-infected emails? Enable message truncation, which allows you to download only the first, say, 50KB of a message. If you want the whole thing, fine, click a link. Otherwise you can delete the message without it hogging your connection.
  2. IMAP IDLE support – a new feature for 0.6, this allows for better performance from IMAP servers that support it.
  3. Threaded message checking – I only noticed this after I had to use OE for something today. OE checks accounts one after the other – if the first mail server is slow, then you have to wait for it before checking other accounts. Thunderbird checks them concurrently, so one slow server doesn’t affect your other accounts.
  4. Edit as new – allows you to edit existing emails as if they were new ones. I can’t believe OE doesn’t have this feature as I’ve used it so often. Nor can I believe I didn’t put it in my original list.
  5. Ability to associate multiple addresses with an account – this is still a backend feature with no UI as yet, but it’s possible to have multiple email addresses associate with one account. I have my Scrapie email forwarded to my Bradford email account, yet I can reply as if the account was separate. Let’s hope that a UI appears for this soon.

I could also throw in that it’s open source but I don’t really think that is all that advantagous to the end-user. Still, I’ve never looked back on my decision to dump OE – possibly the only feature missing from Thunderbird is Hotmail support and there are already several third-party programs that will get around that.


  1. Wilst I fully agree with Thunderbird being better than OE, as a tech support for a Microsoft loving firm I feel I should respond to your five latest reasons.
    1 Message truncation is usefull in it’s place. It’s place is on pdas, webmail, and dial up. So yes it’s a good feature, but becoming less so for a mail client like thunderbird
    2 Don’t know.
    3 In an ideal world everybody should only need one mail server. And isn’t concurrent downloading just going to slow you down getting your important account on dial up? But yes, I do love this feature – my slow Russian server doesn’t slow down my fast uk server at all even when it goes offline for hours at a time.
    4 Outlook has a resend command, admittedly not obvious though. I don’t know about OE.
    5 Sounds great, but if like me you use authenticated smtp servers then the server balks at being given a from address on the wrong domain. Besides, if you have permissions then you can change the from address to anybody in the organisation in Outlook.
    But I still love Thunderbird despite the flaws, there’s no way I’d ever go back to Outlook Express at home.
    At work is a different matter. Webmail is best when I’m moving about, but I use Outlook 2003 when I’m at my desk.

  2. I’ve been using Thunderbird to check some secondary e-mails for a while. It’s the second best e-mail cliente I’ve ever seen, and perfect for most people. But I keep sticking to my old Eudora.

  3. Looks like you got the attention of Windows Zealot Paul Thurrott, who challenges you to do a comparison against Outlook (not Express).
    Given that Express is wildly popular and Outlook isn’t (for good reason, IMHO), I think Thurrott’s just being his usual a**hole self. But how about it? Just for chuckles, take a shot at it.